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The Same But Better

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Although Le Cartet is entirely renovated, the café/restaurant/market has maintained its original charm; the laid-back atmosphere still prevails, and yet it is now more efficient and polished due to some well-chosen and cleverly used materials.

Le Cartet is located in a spot that is quite typical on McGill Street in Old Montreal: a flowing locale with windows at either extremity, it extends 100 feet deep and boasts 14-foot high ceilings.

It houses many services, such as fast food for people on the run, breakfasts and afternoon teas, Sunday brunches and even groceries. These colourful and boldly packaged products also contribute to the place's atmosphere. Well-aligned on their shelves, their abundance contrasts with the sleek, simple and monochrome enclosure they sit in.

The architectural work carried out by Natalie Dionne adheres to this sobriety (which was also present in the former fittings) but brings it to a higher level with respect to the finishing and the utilization of space. She used steel, wood and a coating of white as basic elements to build the framework, each one defining a particular area or function. A few details add flavour to the look, such as white glass paste tiles and light bulbs with orange filaments, hanging from black wires.

One of the problems at the former Cartet was the awkward circulation, particularly during rush hour. The new set-up handles the take-out line more effectively by wrapping it around a central cash located at the front. This leaves room for the staff and customers who want to sit at a table to take a different route that follows a long wall that hides the kitchen.

The large boarding-house-style tables that brought their own charm to the place are still there, but bulkier in their size (14 feet long) as well as in the material used. They are built from a single solid piece of African wood and symbolise the communal and friendly atmosphere of the location, which has become one of the best-loved gathering spots in Montreal.